Panos London has a 20-year record of innovative communication work in the field of HIV and AIDS. We will continue this work, but also use our insights and experience to address other public health issues. In particular, we focus on uncovering and tackling the social challenges to health that affect the developing world, by:
- Raising awareness of the importance of involving poor and marginalised groups in public health decisions about services aimed at them
- Increasing knowledge of effective methods of working with hard-to-reach groups to support them in communicating their experiences and priorities
- Enabling those affected by key health conditions to influence policy processes
- Ensuring that experience and learning from different countries is shared by all.
Twenty years experience
Since we first drew attention to the implications of AIDS in developing countries in the late 1980s (see AIDS in the Third World), we have established an unparalleled record in raising awareness of, promoting discussion around, and stimulating responses to the social causes and consequences of HIV and AIDS.
Our reports and policy analysis strengthen communication thinking and practice. For example, the international community has pledged to provide universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. But to do this, we argue, countries must explicitly incorporate effective communication into their plans (see Breaking barriers).
We have developed and adopted a ‘communication for social change’ approach with our partners that goes beyond the narrowly-focused, but still widespread emphasis on individual ‘behaviour change’ (see Missing the message). We want to address the social and cultural aspects of HIV and AIDS – such as stigma and discrimination – and to support those affected to set their own agenda and to inform national epidemic responses.
We are well-known for our work with mainstream media, which helps to ensure that the experiences of people living with HIV are heard more widely. And we are also exploring innovative techniques that support the expression and involvement of those most affected by the disease. Such participatory approaches include oral testimony and a growing range of small, new media initiatives that enable people living with HIV to communicate on their own terms.
A public health network
We also believe that reflection on practice, evidence and research is vital to promote more effective programming. We facilitate learning and discussion networks on key aspects of communication among HIV and AIDS practitioners and policymakers.
Our work is greatly strengthened by collaborating with other Panos institutes in Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean, North America and Europe through the Panos Global AIDS Programme.